Wade Davis Hub

NFL Players Reach Out to LGBT Youth in 'High Five Initiative'

The 'You Can Play Project' has announced the 'High Five Initiative', a collaboration that will see, in its first project, NFL players interacting one-one-one with LGBT youth, the group announced:

VincentThe initiative will have a soft launch with former NFL players and NFL player engagement executives Troy Vincent (pictured) and Dwight Hollier visiting New York City's Hetrick Martin Institute (HMI), one of the nation's oldest and largest LGBT organizations. The HMI provides lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ) youth social support and programming ranging from arts and culture to academic enrichment to job readiness.

After today, both organizations will continue to work together to expand the initiative during the 2014 NFL season and have current and former players visit other organizations nationwide.

The project is the first initiative from the group's executive director, former NFL player Wade Davis.

Said Davis: “We believe that the power of story telling is a transformative experience that helps to broaden and foster our understanding of one another. We hope through these one-on-one interactions youth will see they are welcomed in sports."

Added the group:

The name “High Five” for the initiative is important as well, because Glenn Burke, former MLB player and gay male, is credited with inventing the “High Five” and further cementing the connection between LGBT individuals and sports.

“Our goal at You Can Play beyond creating safe spaces for LGBT individuals, is to change the singular narrative that exist about sports. If youth only hear that sports is about toughness, masculinity and violence, some may choose not to play. But when youth learn the true essence of sports is family, solidarity and compassion for all participants, then we will see more youth, especially LGBT youth, understand sports is a place for them,” said Davis.

Should Straight Allies Back Away from the Spotlight in the LGBT Sports Movement?

Chris Kluwe

In the year and a half since its launch, the You Can Play Project has been working hard at supporting LGBT rights and fighting homophobia in sports by featuring a growing list of vocal athlete allies from across the sporting world. In a new article over at Outsports, however, founder Patrick Burke expressed his discomfort with the reality that the LGBT sports movement isn't actually an LGBT sports movement.

Said Burke:

Patrick BurkeI can't shake the feeling that we've gone too far. Allies have raised our profiles beyond what is necessary to help the LGBT community. It's been a big year for allies to get famous, grab a book deal, win awards, maybe pocket some speaker's fees for appearances. Resources that should be going to empower LGBT voices are instead going to enhance the visibility of straight people. We've created professional allies (or, as the history major in me would call them, mercenaries). We've created famous allies. Think of how absurd that concept is. I have a public presence because I treat gay people with respect.

Part of it is the fault of the allies. Part of it has been the unwillingness of the LGBT athletic community to stand up publicly and say, "Thank you for everything, but we'be got this now." A major part of it is that the leagues, media, and major financial donors are still more comfortable working with straight white men. This is often true even when dealing with members of the LGBT community, who donate to or otherwise empower straight voices over LGBT athletes.

Burke says that while the contributions from straight allies have been (and continue to be) invaluable, he would like to see more LGBT people become the "faces" of the movement. He points to last month's naming of Wade Davis Executive Director of You Can Play as progress in the push to better connect with LGBT athletes and athletes of color.

Check out Burke's thought-provoking article in full over at Outsports.  

Gay Former NFL Player Wade Davis Named Executive Director of 'You Can Play' Project

Gay former NFL player Wade Davis has been named Executive Director of the 'You Can Play Project', a group working to support LGBT rights and fight homophobia in sports, the organization announced today:

DavisDavis is a former NFL player who is one of a small number of openly gay men to have played professional sports. Davis played college football at Weber State before spending four years with NFL practice squads and in NFL Europe. In addition to his collegiate and professional sports background, Davis has spent the last two and a half years working with inner-city LGBTQ youth at the prestigious Hetrik-Martin Institute in New York City. This year, Davis co-founded the You Belong Initiative, which partnered with the NBA, You Can Play, and other LGBT Sports groups to provide the world’s first LGBTQ sports camp to inner city youth. A member of this year’s HBO “Out List”, Davis has written for the New York Times, Huffington Post, Outsports.com, and other major media outlets. Davis appears on the boards of the GLSEN Sports Project and Go! Athletes.

Said You Can Play co-founders Patrick Burke, Brian Kitts, and Glenn Witman in a joint statement: “Wade is an absolute home run addition for You Can Play. With a background in both professional sports and in working directly with LGBT youth, he has what can only be described as utterly unique expertise. He has worked with numerous non-profits before, and as the founder of the You Belong Initiative he has experience in fundraising, development, and administration. He brings the ability to connect with pro athletes, with kids, and with media. He is an athlete, an academic, a teacher, a coach, a businessman, and a leader.”

Added Davis: “I am honored to have the opportunity to join such a ground-breaking organization in You Can Play. In a short period of time, their work has made significant strides in changing the culture of the sports world. I am hopeful that my background as an athlete and an LGBT youth advocate will allow me to take You Can Play to the next level.”

Davis began talking about his sexuality publicly in June 2012.

'The OUT List' Companion Book From Timothy Greenfield-Sanders: VIDEO

Screen Shot 2013-07-23 at 7.49.19 PMLast month, we premiered the trailer for The OUT List, a film of intimate docu-portraits of both well-known and lesser-known figures in the LGBT community from photographer and director Timothy Greenfield-Sanders.

Now, a coffee table book companion to the HBO documentary has been released, with text from the film's interviews by Sam McConnell and a new introduction by President Obama's inaugural poet Richard Blanco. 

The OUT List companion book features interviews with Dustin Lance Black, iconic drag queen Lady Bunny, former Log Cabin Republican executive director and Iraq veteran R. Clarke Cooper, former NFL football player Wade Davis, Ellen DeGeneres, ballroom performer Twiggy Pucci Garcon, Neil Patrick Harris, longtime activist Larry Kramer, transgender activist and People magazine editor Janet Mock, Cynthia Nixon, Suze Orman, NYC City Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn, Jake Shears, Wanda Sykes, Dallas County sheriff Lupe Valdez, and Muslim educator Wazina Zondon.

The book is available now

If you missed the film, it is still available on HBO On Demand and HBO GO.

You can also see a trailer for the film, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "'The OUT List' Companion Book From Timothy Greenfield-Sanders: VIDEO" »

'The OUT List' from Timothy Greenfield-Sanders: TRAILER PREMIERE


On Thursday, June 27, HBO is premiering The OUT List, a film of intimate docu-portraits from photographer and director Timothy Greenfield-Sanders that follows in the vein of his well known projects About Face: Supermodels Then and Now, The Latino List and The Black List.

The film is a storytelling project in which Greenfield-Sanders's subjects, a diverse swath of well-known and lesser-known figures in the LGBT community, speak directly into the camera and divulge intimate tales of their careers, activism, and pride, as well as details of personal discrimination they've experienced and overcome.

Towleroad is pleased to debut the trailer today. Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP....

OutlistAlong with Greenfield-Sanders (left, with Janet Mock), the film was produced by out filmmaker Sam McConnell (right), who also served as the interviewer on the project.

The OUT List stars Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, iconic drag queen Lady Bunny, former Log Cabin Republican executive director and Iraq veteran R. Clarke Cooper, former NFL football player Wade Davis, Ellen Degeneres, ballroom performer Twiggy Pucci Garcon, Neil Patrick Harris, longtime activist Larry Kramer, transgender activist and People magazine editor Janet Mock, Cynthia Nixon, Suze Orman, NYC City Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn, Jake Shears, Wanda Sykes, Dallas County sheriff Lupe Valdez, and Muslim educator Wazina Zondon.


Other HBO playdates: June 27 (5:20 a.m.), 29 (5:45 a.m.) and 30 (6:00 p.m.), and July 3 (1:30 p.m.), 5 (2:30 p.m.) and 8 (10:00 a.m.) HBO2 playdates: June 28 (2:00 p.m.) and July 1 (9:00 a.m.), 24 (11:00 a.m.), 28 (11:00 a.m.) and 31 (1:00 p.m., 10:00 p.m.)

Continue reading "'The OUT List' from Timothy Greenfield-Sanders: TRAILER PREMIERE" »

Wade Davis: Closeted Gay Players Not 'Chicken'


A few weeks ago, just before the new year, I shared a gay history flashback in the form of a post about Gay Comix, the short-lived, late-70s/early-80s periodical that covered, with tongue in cheek, the burgeoning gay rights movement in illustration.

In that post, I mentioned that a few issues have been reprinted in Robert Triptow's Gay Comics, a collection of LGBT cartoons from that era. My copy of Triptow's anthology came last week, but I didn't had a chance to review it until today.

The first illustration I randomly opened to, a mid-70s cartoon by Charles Ortleb and Richard Fiala originally published in the gay newspaper Christopher Street, is posted above. In case the punchline is too blurry, it reads, "Coach Waldman [no relation] passes out xeroxes of an article asserting that only one in ten of his team could possibly be gay."

This gag, sadly, remains relevant today. Despite all the progress LGBT people have made, the mound, the pitch and the rink all remain relatively closed to sexual honesty.

Wade Davis knows this all too well. The former NFL player had to wait until he retired to come out. Since then, he has dedicated his time to making the collective locker room a more welcoming place for gay players. That doesn't mean, however, that he thinks gay players should be chided for not coming out.

In response to ESPN journalist LZ Granderson's claim that closeted players are "chicken," Davis penned a Los Angeles Times op-ed in which he argues that the onus is on straight players and fans to create a more inclusive environment:

Coming out, or as I like to say, "inviting in," is an individual process that requires a level of safety and security. In women's sports, a number of gay athletes have disclosed their sexual orientation, including tennis champion Amelie Mauresmo, basketball great Sheryl Swoopes and soccer star Megan Rapinoe. It was interesting how little fallout there was from those announcements. But I suspect that women's sports fans are more accepting, in part because of misguided societal notions about femininity and masculinity.

I don't believe another athlete would try to harm a gay male athlete, but professional sports is still full of people happy to express their disapproval of homosexuality, and coming out requires a supportive environment.

It's been about 40 years since Christopher Street published the above cartoon, but this very well could have been run this morning.


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